A SIXTH form could be closing for two years.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy made the announcement on its website on Wednesday.

It said predicted enrolment numbers were too low to offer a full curriculum.

The school will hold a consultation to decide whether to shut the sixth form between September 2020 and September 2022.

In a statement to parents on the website, principal Mark Poston, said: “Following a detailed review by the academy, with our local governing committee and the Aldridge Education Multi-Academy Trust, we have agreed that we will be undertaking a consultation on a proposal to temporarily suspend the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy sixth form offer from September 2020 until 2022.”

He said the school would be working with existing students who may be considering PACA as a sixth form option to identify alternatives.
Existing Year 12 students will be able to continue their studies at PACA through to the completion of their courses in 2020.

The school said its goal was to relaunch a sixth form in 2022, “matching the success of our sister Aldridge Education school BACA in partnerships with leading employers, sports and arts organisations and building on our success at GCSE level”.

Its statement added: “Our focus in undertaking this review has been the best interests of our students. We have been conscious of the decision taken in 2017 to end sixth form provision at nearby Blatchington Mill School and are working with colleagues in the local authority and neighbouring schools.

“A successful sixth form requires an ambitious combination of breadth and depth of subject offer which we aspire to deliver at PACA from 2022. It also requires student numbers that balance the costs of provision.

“The media has highlighted education finances over recent months. This is particularly the case for post-16 where funding has declined.”
PACA said that in Brighton and Hove the average size of sixth form colleges was about 2,500 students, while the average size of school sixth forms was about 200. 

It said the Department For Education recognised that sixth forms with fewer than 250 students are at risk of not being financially viable.

PACA sixth form currently has fewer than 100 students and said its predicted levels of enrolment until 2022 were not high enough to see an increase from this level. 

Mr Poston said: “We believe that we could not offer the range of courses or the social aspect of larger colleges and continuing to operate a small sixth form at a deficit would then impact the resources available to all students at the academy.

“Our Ofsted good rating and success in examination results has meant PACA has become an increasingly popular choice for Year 7 entry in recent years. 

“By 2022, the larger year groups we have seen will have progressed through the academy, giving us the foundation to re-open the sixth form.
“No current students will be affected by the proposal.”

The academy will be hold a parents’ evening on January 21 for those who want to know more. Dates for the consultation process will be announced shortly.